German police dismantle far-right cell plotting to overthrow state

AP - Boris Roessler

Police in Germany have arrested 25 people suspected of belonging to a far-right "terror cell" plotting to overthrow the government and attack parliament, in a series of nationwide raids.

Around 3,000 officers including elite anti-terror units took part in the early morning raids and searched more than 130 properties this Wednesday, in what German media has described as one of the country's largest ever police operation against extremists.

According to federal prosecutors, the raids targeted alleged members of the "Citizens of the Reich" – or Reichsbuerger movement – who are suspected of having made "concrete preparations to violently force their way into the German parliament with a small armed group".

Those arrested are accused of having formed "a terrorist group by the end of November 2021 at the latest, which had set itself the goal of overcoming the existing state order in Germany and replacing it with their own kind of state," they said in a statement.

Two of the 25 arrests were made abroad, in Austria and Italy.

The rise of radicals

Prosecutors in the German city of Karlsruhe said they had identified a further 27 people as suspected members or supporters of the terror network.

The Reichsbuerger movement includes neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists and gun enthusiasts who reject the legitimacy of the modern German republic.

Long dismissed as malcontents and oddballs, the Reichsbuerger have become increasingly radicalised in recent years and are seen as a growing security threat.

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